Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Six: Great Christmas Specials

Nothing gets me into the holiday spirit quite like Christmas specials.

How awesome is this Christmas special?
That axe shoots lasers.
Yeah. It's THAT awesome.

Ryan and I hunt down dvds and media files of Christmas cartoons and movies, and we've amassed a decent collection. When December rolls around we watch pretty much nothing else.

And yes, I know I look like Mrs. Claus from 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town'.

Today I will share some of my favorites with you. You may have your own to share (and please feel free to comment so myself and others can look into them!) They're not quite ranked, or 'Life and Adventures of Santa Claus' would be my number one.

10. Mickey's Christmas Carol: Forget Albert Finney and George C. Scott. The definitive Ebenezer Scrooge for myself, and I'll venture to guess many children of the 80s, is the one played by Scrooge McDuck. Watching this special makes me feel seven years old, it's like uncorking a day from my childhood to enjoy all over again. Plus, the hilarious Donald Duck cartoon at the beginning, am I right?

Here's a link to the entire Christmas Carol cartoon! God bless Yotube, everyone!

9. Jim Henson's The Christmas Toy: Before 'Toy Story', there was another movie about toys who came to life when no one was around. And it also had a fashion obsessed Barbie, a child's favorite plaything fearful of a new rival, and a space explorer toy believing they were really from outer space (no, seriously). Only in this story, if a toy is seen out of place, the toy dies. The stakes are high in this wonderful tale about the magic of Christmas, seen through the eyes of toys. This one can be hard to find, but it's well worth the search.

'Mickey's Christmas Carol' is the only special on the list I could find in its entirety on Youtube, but here's a clip of 'The Christmas Toy' anyway to give you a sample!

8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the original: Of course the original! It's delightful each year to see the Grinch come around once again to the side of generosity and kindness. It's funny, since I was a kid I get so stressed out over how he treats his dog. My happiest moment comes not when he returns Christmas to the Whos, but when he is kind to Max and gives him the best slice of roast beast.

7. Twilight Zone - The Night of the Meek, episode 47: A drunken mall Santa only wishes that for one night the meek really could inherit the Earth. It's heartbreakingly lovely in that way only the Twilight Zone can pull off. Watch this clip and believe that when the Twilight Zone finally steps in to put things right that one Christmas in December 1960, Ryan and I bawl every time. If this list inspires you to look for any special, let it be this one. The Twilight Zone did Christmas well, The Changing of the Guard is another tenderhearted holiday episode.

6. Emmet Otter Jug Band Christmas: This is a great story to share with your little ones to show them Christmas isn't just about presents. With songs from Paul Williams and Jim Henson's direction, this tale centers around a poor Mama otter and her sweet minded son Emmet and the lengths they go to give each other the best Christmas ever.

5. It's a Wonderful Life: For me, this Christmas classic is best reenacted in my Nana's living room by my uncles. It's a big movie in our family, and lines from it are said year round. As a little girl my Uncle Mark would hold me up and have me say the bell line and he'd reply, "That's right. That's right!" And wink at the ceiling. I like this story because, like a Christmas Carol, through one man's life it reminds us of the power of redemption. In both stories messengers from the afterlife arrive on Christmas Eve to offer a second chance and show the central character God's interest in saving them. And while many of us probably haven't been as cold and heartless as Scrooge, we may have lost sight of our own significance like George Bailey.

4. A Muppet Family Christmas: This special is just amazing. The Muppets come together to celebrate at Fozzie Bear's Mom's house ("What?!"). From start to finish it feels like a real Christmas celebration with all the squabbling and loving family can share during the holidays. With old friends and new friends, everyone in the Henson Muppet family comes together for the holidays to enjoy some quality time together. Watch out for the icy patch!

3. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus: Like I said earlier, this is my favorite Christmas special of all time. Written by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum and staged by the stop motion wonder of Rankin Bass, it is a bizarre venture into the magical back story of Santa Claus' immortality. Complete with fairies, the king of the druids, ogres, dragons, and an axe that shoots lasers! It somehow manages to make way more sense than Rankin Bass's other Santa back story, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. (Because who else on Christmas could grant man eternal life, but the fairy kingdom?...Oh, wait---)

It's the Lord of the Rings meets Santa Claus, only better.

2. Rudolph: Christmas in America just isn't complete without this sweet classic defending misfits everywhere. I feel like I don't need to write much about it, we've all seen it. We all probably have our own reasons for liking it (have you ever met anyone who didn't like this?). My reason for liking it? When I was a child one of my imaginary friends was this snowman.

I still miss him.

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas: This is another American staple in the holiday season. Charles Schultz explains the meaning behind Christmas beyond the commercialism and the decorating. I pray it's never remade, it's perfect just the way it is.

And there you have it! Shout outs and honorable mentions go to Christmas in Connecticut (who knew a working dame could have it all?) the touching Garfield Christmas Special, the hilarious Scrooged, the original Miracle on 34th Street (I still weep during the final court scene) Muppet Christmas Carol, and The Snowman.

My next post, coming up shortly, will be honoring the other side of that holiday gold foil chocolate coin: Terrible Christmas Specials!


  1. Awesome list! I'm ashamed to say I hadn't heard of most of these before this evening. And there's a stop motion film of Baum's Life & Adventures of Santa Claus?! I'm reading that right now and should really try to dig up a copy of the adaptation when I'm done.

  2. You really should! I read it a few years ago myself, and loved it. The Rankin Bass special takes some of the dialogue word for word, and the songs are really great. My sister and I have always loved it.


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